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DairyNZ, Federated Farmers and Dairy Women's Network are calling on the Government to allow 1500 international dairy workers into New Zealand in 2022.
The organisations say the extra staff will help meet the sector's workforce shortfall if borders remain closed.
Half of the dairy farmers who took part in a recent joint DairyNZ and Federated Farmers survey reported they were short-staffed.
"We know that we're at least 2000 staff members down," DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle told The Country Sport Breakfast's Brian Kelly.
The request comes as New Zealand unemployment rates fall to 3.4 per cent - equal to the lowest level seen since 2007 - shortly before the Global Financial Crisis hit the economy.
"In many rural regions, it's possibly even lower than that...so that's a real concern," Mackle said.
"We've got to get this sorted, farmers have done two seasons tough now, being down on staff."
While good milk prices were something to celebrate, other pressures remained on dairy farmers and a shortage of staff wasn't helping, Mackle said.
"There's still some real concern out there and there is some stress and it just shows that for most people, money's not everything."
Unacceptable stress levels for farmers and their teams could also threaten animal welfare and environmental performance, Mackle said.
"All those kinds of things start to be put at risk when you don't have the people you need.
"Unfilled vacancies not only limit farm productivity but some of those other really important things that are part of dairy."
To help alleviate the situation, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers and Dairy Women's Network were proposing a new way to free up MIQ spaces for international staff.
"We've come up with a plan which would see farm workers quarantined on-farm," Mackle said.
Staff would stay in separate housing on the property, only if they were fully vaccinated and followed Covid-19 safety requirements while in quarantine.
There was often extra housing on a dairy farm and this could easily be used, Mackle said.
"Ultimately farmers can provide safe home quarantine in rural areas."
DairyNZ, Federated Farmers and Dairy Women's Network had also asked Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor for changes to class exceptions but had not heard back yet.
Mackle said this was understandable with O'Connor's current workload.
"We're seeking a meeting with Minister O'Connor but he's obviously pretty busy lately with his travel to the UK about the FTA which was wonderful news."
A meeting with O'Connor was on the cards at some point though, and Mackle felt positive about it.
"I think he's looking forward to a different regime next year as well, that's the initial comment we've got back from him."
DairyNZ has a range of initiatives underway to attract new people into the sector, including a GoDairy programme.